In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower
Today, the military hardly has any influence on European governments.
In contrast, the European Central Bank (ECB) is a very powerful institution. Former ECB President Trichet put pressure on government leaders with (secret) letters. Former ECB President Draghi said “whatever it takes“, and the euro crisis was over.
What group of people has the greatest influence on the ECB?
Bankers? Lmao. A quick look at the share prices of European banks tells you everything you need to know about the “power” of private finance.
No, academics are the real rulers of the ECB.
Three of the four Members of the Executive Board have PhDs in economics (Lane, Panetta, Schnabel). Two of them are professors.
Former President Draghi was a professor.
After your tenure at the ECB, you can pass the revolving door into a professorship.
For the lesser gods of economics, the ECB has conferences and research positions.
Maybe Europe should guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the monetary–academic complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.
The Chinese authorities are implementing a Social Credit System. People’s behavior results in rewards (e.g. renting a car without having to pay a deposit) or restrictions (e.g. getting barred from buying plane tickets). So it’s kind of a big carrot and stick mechanism.
As is often the case, it’s not clear what is hype and what is true about the Social Credit System.
This article does a good job explaining the misrepresentations in the media.
Now, there are a few things missing from articles about the Social Credit System that deserve further investigation. Continue reading “Social credit”
WARNING: This post is NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK!
Decades from now, historians will be discussing how the political outsider Donald J. Trump could win the American presidency from a career politician like Hillary Clinton.
While the memory is still fresh, I – as a foreign observer – want to highlight a part of the presidential race that has not been covered well by the press. Especially as censorship is rapidly destroying evidence of what has really happened.
This article documents an aspect of the online battle for the hearts and minds of the public that was not organized by the official Trump campaing team.
This is my report on the Meme War of 2015-2016. Continue reading “Social media warriors for Trump”
Elites cannot act against their own interests, right?
Donald Trump has been running a populist campaign against the establishment. To many of his critics, this is absurd.
Why should a billionaire care for the working class? How can a man whose shirts and ties are made in China be against trade deals? Is Trump credible when he calls for a wall at the US-Mexican border, knowing he hired Mexican workers himself?
Trump is so much part of the elite that his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton even attended his wedding to Melania.
It appears that Trump belongs to the establishment which benefits from the status quo. Why would anybody who is a ‘winner’ in the system want to change it?
These critics, however, miss two important points.
First of all, the critics assume that members of the elite are only motivated by their personal financial interests. This, however, denies human nature. People have strong feelings on what is just and right. Elites have the means to become champions for others they sympathize with. Continue reading “From Moses to Trump: elites against the establishment”
The rise of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum have led to a lot of commentary on democracy itself. Understandably these comments usually come from people who dislike the outcome. But that does not mean they do not have a point.
This article looks at the democratic process up to the casting of the ballot. How the votes are counted, what is done with the result, how votes are translated into representatives and policy, the influence of non-elected lobbyists on legislation… is outside the scope of this post.
If this post comes across as cynical, it’s probably because it describes reality.
A lot of pundits have a cartoonish view of democracy, which can be summarized as follows:
- People get informed on issues, programs and candidates
- Voters weigh the arguments
- A rational evaluation leads to a decision in the form of a vote
Even if commentators do not actually believe this is how it works, their opinions betray that they think it is how democracy should be in the best of worlds.
Let us now scrutinize how elections work in reality. As always on this website, we take a step by step approach to make all assumptions explicit. As a thought experiment, a number of possible changes to the existing election process are suggested. I pose some fundamental questions that should be answered by those who are not satisfied with the status quo.
Continue reading “How to win votes”